Lewis Hamilton went from pole to victory in the Formula One French Grand Prix on Sunday, and now has the lead back in the Drivers’ Championship. He took the lead from Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, who crashed on the first lap but carved his way through the field to finish fifth and mitigate some of the damage.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari had the other two podium spots. Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull looked like he had third on lockdown until he hit some debris and suffered some damage to the front of his car, allowing Raikkonen on fresher tires to eventually get past him.
It was a wild start to the race that included multiple collisions and around seven total cars going off track for various reasons (plus a man flying around above the track on top of a drone, for some reason). Vettel locked up hard and hit Valtteri Bottas, spinning out the Mercedes driver and causing a puncture, in addition to significant front wing damage for Vettel. They both had to pit right away, Bottas for tires and Vettel for a new nose cone and a new set of soft tires.
Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were also involved in an incident on the start, and became the first two drivers eliminated from the race.
From there, both Vettel and Bottas started cutting their way through the pack, with the potential of not needing to stop again for the rest of the race on the soft tires.
They did eventually pit, with Bottas going first with a real chance of improving his position, but a slow pit stop put him well behind Vettel, who pit a lap later and was well clear of Bottas with around 10 laps to go. Bottas lost out on passing Kevin Magnussen for sixth position due to a virtual safety car in the final two laps of the race.
When it restarted, there was less than a lap to go, and Bottas had to deal with yellow flags despite having a 0.6-second gap to make up. He didn’t get it, and finished seventh.
As far as eliminations go, the first lap saw the aforementioned retiremnets of Gasly and then Ocon in the same incident. Sergio Perez had an engine issue mid-way through the race that caused him to be the third driver out. Lance Stroll of Williams had a tire blowout and had to stop late in the race, prompting the aforementioned safety car.
Below, you can see the live blog in reverse order, as well as the full finishing order for Sunday’s action. For full updated point standings and updated results throughout the season, go here.
French Grand Prix Finishing Order
|Carlos Sainz Jr.
Lap 53/53 – FINAL
The broadcast claims that Alonso is going for the fastest lap, and that’s why he pit for the ultrasoft tires. Sainz comes over the radio from sixth and he says he’s losing engine power. Magnussen and Bottas are right behind him now. Stroll has hit the barriers, it seems, and is out of the race. Replay shows a blowout on the left front tire. That’s a tough one for him, but he was running near the back anyway. He retired from the race. Virtual safety car deployed, which should go through to the end of the race.
The virtual safety car ends with about half a lap to go. Bottas is the loser here, .6 seconds back of Magnussen, who he certainly would have passed if not for the safety car. There are still double yellows in sector two after the restart, and Bottas can’t make the pass.
It’s Hamilton, Verstappen and Raikkonen for the podium, then Ricciardo, Vettel, Magnussen, Bottas, Sainz, Hulkenberg and Leclerc for the points positions.
Ricciardo blocks a move from Raikkonen, and then a turn later, he blocks another move. But after the straight, Raikkonen underbrakes and makes it past Ricciardo, who also locks up. Raikkonen took the spot around the outside, and is into the podium places. Alonso finally pits to fit new tires. Ricciardo has hit some kind of debris that has damaged his front wing, and that’s why Raikkonen made such quick gains on him.
Bottas sets purples on his fresh tires. He’s 2.3 seconds back of Magnussen, who is about 4.4 seconds back of Sainz in sixth, and that’s what Bottas is targeting at this point. Alonso on the team radio, as angry as ever. “No brakes, no tires, we’re out of the points,” he says. He’s running 13th, behind his teammate, Vandoorne. Raikkonen now 1.1 second down of Ricciardo in third! Verstappen is about five seconds back of Hamilton. Ricciardo has dropped back 16.5 seconds behind Verstappen, so there’s probably some issues with his car.
Bottas fit the supersofts while Vettel fit the ultrasofts. Bottas moves up to eighth shortly after his stop, passing HUlkenberg. Vettel rejoins in fifth after serving his five-second penalty, and he’s over 30 seconds back of Raikkonen in fourth. Hamilton has a pretty consistent 3-second lead on Verstappen. Raikkonen 6.1 seconds back of Ricciardo in third.
Sainz moves up to eighth after an easy pass on Vandoorne, while Leclerc, after the pit stop, makes it past Alonso for 12th. Hamilton sets purples again. Vettel still ahead of Raikkonen, who sets some purples himself. Raikkonen gets right behind his teammate, and then drops back a couple seconds. It’s unclear why Ferrari aren’t just letting him through. Leclerc makes a move on Hartley, and it sticks. Now he’s chasing down Hulkenberg.
Oh wow, Bottas pits and there’s trouble with the right rear tire or the jack, and he loses multiple places because of it. Ferrari is now pitting Vettel to cut off Bottas, though he will be safe given the issues with Bottas’ stop.
Grosjean gets a five-second time penalty of his own for causing a collision on the opening lap. Verstappen sets a purple lap on fresh tires from third, behind Raikkonen and Hamilton, neither of whom have stopped. And on Lap 33, Hamilton is instructed to box at the end of the lap, with a 20.6-second lead over Raikkonen! Hamilton comes out behind Raikkonen, but not too far behind. Ricciardo is right on Vettel’s rear and is flirting with a pass here. Ricciardo is on the fresher tires, and Ricciardo makes it happen on Lap 4! Raikkonen pits, and Verstappen goes through., then Ricciardo and Vettel, so Raikkonen is P5 after the first round of stops. Bottas is in sixth, but 17 seconds down of Raikkonen.
Sainz pits and fits the soft tires, and rejoins back in 14th. Hamilton is 12.5 seconds up on Ricciardo, who is about five seconds clear of Raikkonen. Bottas is still behind Leclerc, and is around 20 seconds behind Vettel as of Lap 29.
Ricciardo pits on Lap 29, fitting the softs. Verstappen is coming around the corner, and the move doesn’t work out how Ricciardo would have hoped! Verstappen goes past him, and so does Vettel, now in fourth place! Perez stops in the pits and is retiring with a “possible engine issue,” which is REAL bad given this is a brand new engine.
Leclerc goes wide chasing Magnussen and loses out to Hulkenberg. He comes over the team radio and says there’s “something wrong” with the tires. Bottas is now chasing Leclerc and he’s moving into DRS range on it. Verstappen goes into the pits and fits the soft tires, coming out in fourth behind Raikkonen, but ahead of Vettel. Sirotkin gets a five-second penalty for the aforementioned incident and, well, he’s already in last so …
We may have some rain! In about 20 minutes or so, according to Alonso’s team radio! Leclerc is pushing on Magnussen, this one will be interesting!
Another lap, and Vettel makes it through to eighth, past Grosjean. Bottas makes a nice move on Perez right after Hulkenberg passed him. Bottas running 11th on Lap 15, behind Hulkenberg and chasing him down. Vettel is around four seconds down of Leclerc in seventh. Hulkenberg’s team radio tells him to get after Grosjean. Sirotkin is under investigation for going unnecessarily slow under the safety car.
Vettel quickly gains on Leclerc and passes him, and then Magnussen for good measure. Bottas makes a move on Grosjean to get into the points positions. Vettel is quickly behind Sainz in fifth. Hamilton is up five seconds on Verstappen, with another four seconds between Verstappen and Ricciardo. Vettel passes Sainz and is now 17 seconds behind Raikkonen, his teammate, in fourth.
Ricciardo makes it past Sainz to get into third place. Vettel is levied a five-second time penalty, which will be assessed on his next pit stop. If there isn’t one, it will be added to his time at the end of the race. Raikkonen makes it past Sainz himself about a lap after Ricciardo did. Hamilton’s early gap to Verstappen is around 2.6 seconds. Hamilton, trailing Vettel by one point in the drivers’ championship, has about a 20-second lead to him.
Vettel moves into the points with a nice overtake on Hulkenberg, while Bottas is up into 12th. An incident is under investigation involving Grosjean going off the track and potentially gaining an advantage.
Bottas unlaps himself and we get back racing on Lap 6. Fernado Alonso spins out near the back of the pack and is quickly at the back of the grid. Vettel caught him napping a bit at the back. Vettel moves up to 14th, and Raikkonen gets clear of Leclerc to take sixth place.
Hamilton made it through unscathed. Verstappen took the escape road entirely and wound up in second. Bottas fits the soft tires. Gasly and Ocon are out, with Bottas, Vettel and Alonso the bottom three. Raikkonen is in seventh, while Leclerc is in sixth. The top five is Hamilton, Verstappen, Sainz, Ricciardo and Magnussen. Raikkonen didn’t take any damage, he just had a bad start, and had to go wide, though there was some contact with Nico Hulkenberg of Renault.
Both Mercedes get off well at the start, but there’s some serious contact and Bottas spins out! Esteban Ocon seems to have a puncture. Both Ferrari cars were involved in the incident! Vettel has some sort of serious car issue that is causing sparking near his front tires. Bottas has a puncture, and Raikkonen has some damage too. Vettel’s front wing is dragging. Gasly hit Ocon, while Vettel made contact with Grosjean. Gasly appears to be out of the race.
And we have a safety car!
It’s looking like Hamilton, Verstappen for the top two for now. Vettel replaces his nose cone. Gasly is trying to get his car restarted, and Bottas successfully limps back to the pits. Upon rewatching, Vettel locked up and went into the back of Bottas, spinning him out.
The live blog will be kicking off shortly once the French Grand Prix is underway! Also: there is a man in the sky.
The Formula One French Grand Prix is back for the first time since 2008, and will take place at the Circuit Paul Ricard for the first time since 1990. Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes has pole position, narrowly edging out teammate Valtteri Bottas for a front-row lockout.
After the last race, Hamilton fell out of the lead in the Drivers Championship, as he now trails Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by a single point. His teammate, Bottas, is in third with 86 points while Vettel has 121. Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull is right behind Bottas with 84 points.
Vettel will start third on the grid ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull, then Ricciardo and then Kimi Raikkonnen, Vettel’s teammate.
The surprise of qualifying was the young Charles Leclerc putting his Sauber into the third qualifying session, where he also managed to put himself past both of the Haas F1 cars to start eighth on the grid. The run of bad luck continued for Haas’ Romain Grosjean, who crashed in Q3 and will start from 10th in the grid for his home grand prix.
Below is all you need to know to watch the race on Sunday.
How to watch the 2018 F1 French Grand Prix
Date: Sunday, June 24
Location: Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet
Time: 10 a.m. ET